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Friday,September 25,2020 03:28 AM

A renaissance of local art

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th May 2001 03:00 AM

The intricate pieces of Uganda art drawn on bark cloth instead of canvas; using banana fibre instead of oil colours and those of beautifully woven beads have aggressively hit the African art market to compete with established markets in Kenya,

The intricate pieces of Uganda art drawn on bark cloth instead of canvas; using banana fibre instead of oil colours and those of beautifully woven beads have aggressively hit the African art market to compete with established markets in Kenya,

By Titus W. Kakembo The intricate pieces of Uganda art drawn on bark cloth instead of canvas; using banana fibre instead of oil colours and those of beautifully woven beads have aggressively hit the African art market to compete with established markets in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Nuwa Wamala Nyanzi, chairman, Uganda Artists Association (UAA), says the biggest market in Kampala is the expatriate community. The prices are reportedly too high for the average would-be buyer. Nyanzi says: "But now the local community is also buying. We now have reprints which come cheaper than the original stuff. An original costing sh 300,000 we reproduce at sh30,000." In the booming art trade, the pioneer dealers, Nomo Gallery, are now faced with stiff competition in the market. Okapi Gallery on Gayaza road, Gallery Café, Cassava Republic and Tulifanya Gallery are compulsory destinations for art lovers and collectors. Regular exhibitions at the Sheraton and in Makerere University contribute towards a renaissance of visual art in the country. Jean Marie Otada, a collector says buying from the students is cheaper. He says: "They are a lot cheaper than the established gallery, which has yet to set up a price with consideration of their commission and profit propelled business." John H. Keller, proprietor of Gallery Café, says with precious batiks, oil paints and sculptures from DR Congo, Rwanda and East Africa in store, his place has a variety of customers from all over the world. He says: "They comprise mainly of tourists; so the recent history of the Bwindi tourist murders, ebola and the bombs after the presidential elections have affected the trade. Tourism is very sensitive to security. When it hurts so do art sales." He said the back packers do not buy art. But it is the big spending tourists who want a treasure to take back home, ranging from crafts like walking sticks, curved stools, wall hangings and sculptures: "Locals come for a meal, a drink or an outing, but the culture of appreciating art is still foreign here. Not that they do not have the money but art is not a priority in their life styles," he says. Maria Fisher, the proprietor of Tulifanya Gallery, says though the season is low, it is expected to pick up soon. She says framing, gems and sculptures keep her busy all year round. At African Village by the National Theatre, a regular stream of both locals and visitors flows endlessly to the stalls for artifacts, fabrics and gems. Nkumba University and Makerere University School of Industrial and Fine art are steadily releasing artists to boost creativity. Local raw materials like bark cloth, beads, tree stumps and scrap metal are being turned into precious pieces of art. Ends

A renaissance of local art

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